I’ve seen so many complaints about this. SO. FUCKING. MANY. And tbf, at any other time I would side with them, in that it is not ok to whitewash an already scarce major Asian role for the fuck of it.
This is a sad case of truly shitty extraneous circumstances, and it looks like none of the people complaining understand why. So allow me to explain (and summerize for those who don’t know whats going on)
The Ancient One (TAO) is a mystical and powerful being in the Dr Strange comics, and in the film is being played by Tilda Swinton.
So this guy:
Is now this:
Yeah. And certain people are calling Marvel racist whitewashers etc, but here is the dilemma they had.
TAO is canonically Tibetan. All the mysticism and power of the character, and by extension that which he teaches to Dr Strange is influenced by this fact (not necessarily accurately but thats another story). Now this would never be an issue at all, except for a small group of people known as the government of the People’s Republic of China. For those who don’t know, China thinks they own Tibet, they invaded it back in 1950 and have fought against any major dissension of their claim to it ever since, be it political or otherwise. So basically, the Chinese government was not happy, and a boycott was on the cards if the character was depicted as Tibetan instead of Chinese.
Well Marvel can’t then just make TAO Chinese, coz thats a big ol’ Fuck You to the Tibetan people, and they can’t make TAO Tibetan because then they lose a billion person audience AND could potentially sour US/China relations (yes, the Chinese take this THAT seriously). Marvel’s comics back in the day may not have given a fuck, but their movie industry now is not in a position to be making decisions that could have serious political consequences. You could say “well why not switch to a different Asian culture entirely”, but then they run into the mire of treating Asian cultures as an amorphous blob that are easily interchangeable, which is not a good thing to do and you know for a fact would get them called racists anyway. Which in itself was an additional minor reason for the change, since the original Ancient One had some pretty tired and stereotypical Asian trope nonsense going on, which given current accusations that major Asian characters are always mystic ninja types, Marvel didnt want to deal with seeing as its hard to write a mystic without the mysticism.
So this is what happened. Is it ideal? No. Is it fair? Not really. But given the shit circumstances here, it is hardly fair to be piling all the blame on Marvel, and certainly to put any blame on Tilda.
Well, that’s disappointing to hear. “Lesser of two evils” is painful.
damn, i didnt know this. it sucks that marvel was kinda backed into a corner by political shit.
Option three, the one that would most likely solve this particular nasty problem: DON’T MAKE THE FUCKING MOVIE UNTIL THIS POLITICS SHIT HAS BEEN RESOLVED AND GIVE US A STANDALONE BLACK WIDOW MOVIE INSTEAD YEAH?! IT’S NOT LIKE THERE WON’T BE A WHITE WOMAN IN THAT ONE IF YOU MUST HAVE A WHITE WOMAN IN YOUR MOVIE.
Good point to this plan: Yay Black Widow movie, which is overdue by forever.
Bad point to this plan: exactly when do you think this will be resolved? Because its 66 years and counting and its the strongest and most polarizing its ever been. The movie would be on hiatus indefinitely.
Who knows: humans are fickle creatures and the situation could get neatly resolved within our lifetime through cosmic circumstances and deus ex machina or it could drag on forever.
Mainly, I don’t know, but I also don’t care about Dr. Strange ¯_(?)_/¯.
Also they’ve reportedly already changed the movie to saying the Ancient One is Nepalese instead of Tibetan – again, to get around this terrible political situation with China – so ummm they could have you know. cast a Nepalese actor/actress instead of Tilda “David Bowie Wasn’t Available” Swinton. I mean, that’s straight-up yellowface, this is goddamn 2016. :P
Especially since they have Dichen Lachman available as an actual Nepalese actress. Yes, she’s already playing a different role on AoS, but come on, sufficiently different costuming, makeup, writing, etc. should be enough to let her play two distinct characters.
Also, seriously, Dr. Strange is a property that really could have been left off indefinitely without running out of cool Marvel things to make movies out of.
On Dr Strange and the Ancient One
Comments Off on On Dr Strange and the Ancient One